Since the federal government through the minister of state for aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika announced plans to concession the country’s airports, there have been reactions from all sides.
While some throw their weight behind the idea based on what they described as the present embarrassing states of the airports in the face of infrastructural decay, others opposed the idea on the excuse that there was no sincerity in the idea.
The opponents cited some concessions done by past governments which fell short of expectation in view of the shoddy manners they were carried out.
It is no longer news that majority of the concessions or Public Private Partnership (PPP) the government entered into in the past with private individuals and companies defeated the original aim of going into such agreements in the first instance.
Top on such controversial concessions include: the ones between the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) /Bi-Courtney Aviation Services, Maevis/FAAN and Chief Harry Akande’s ACI/FAAN.
All these have become issues of litigation following the disagreement that erupted from the interest groups over allegations of insincerity and lopsidedness discovered after the agreements had been sealed and signed.
It is also not news that most of the concessions were put up without proper procedures in line with open transparency by the past governments who signed the agreements behind curtain without following the due process.
It is therefore no wonder that those who opposed the latest move have their points.
However, the good news is that the planned concession of the airports under the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari may have refused to be caught up in the executive mess.
That the Buhari led administration is actually sincere with the plan and determine to be fair to Nigerians in making the plan achievable became obvious last week when Senator Hadi Sirika vehemently vowed to ensure that the concession plan will not only be made transparent but done in the interest of Nigerians and the private sector.
The joy in this latest planned concession is that the exercise will not tantamount to privatization or outright sale, rather, the airports’ facilities to be involved in the concession will still remain the property of FAAN, meaning that the deal will apart from bring massive development to the airports, shore up the country’s image, will make more money for the government even as the airports still remain its property.
According to Sirika: “Public-Private-Partnership and concession in the airports have never been done in a structured and transparent manner.
The contracts are not properly prepared, no risk analysis and no financial models. Consequently, it is not surprising that they ended in litigation.
I want to assure stakeholders that we will be transparent and the concession is in the best interest of the country.”
Following the pronouncement of the government through Sirika, it is certain that there is an element of sincerity on its part and this shows that all the fears stakeholders had earlier raised when the concession plan was announced by this government have actually been looked into.
Nothing is as good as for a government to listen to the yearnings of its people as this will go a long way in removing suspicion and subsequently guiding such government against making mistakes which the past governments failed to achieve in the past concessions.
Therefore, for those still opposing this deal, the time has come to shift ground and give this government the opportunity to revive the airports which are urgently calling for help.
Obviously, the ongoing economic hardship biting the government very hard has made it impossible for it to have the capacity to upgrade any of the airports to the expected standard and since the government can not fold it’s arms and watch the airport collapse, there is no other choice left than to concession the airports urgently without any sentiment.
While the government has the support of Crucial Moment on this, it is however hoped that the concession agreements will be entered into with private individuals/Companies that have the pedigree and credibility to make the airports not only better but conducive for travelers.